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Joe Wilson's Quarrels

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) on Thursday said his outburst before a joint session of Congress was "spontaneous."

That may well be the case -- but this wasn't his first public quarrel. According to a September 2002 report in The Washington Post (via The Plum Line), Wilson engaged in a heated debate on C-SPAN with Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), in which he accused Filner of having a "visceral hatred" of America:

Filner, who opposes unilateral U.S. military action, suggested that in the 1980s, when U.S. officials sided with Iraq in its war against Iran, Saddam Hussein obtained biological and chemical weapons technology from the United States. "We gave it to him," Filner asserted.

"That is wrong. That's made up," Wilson fired back. "I can't believe you would say something like that."

When Filner calmly held his ground, advising Wilson to read newspaper reports and other documentation, the Republican erupted: "This hatred of America by some people is just outrageous. And you need to get over that."

As moderator Connie Brod sat by helplessly, Filner challenged: "Hatred of America? ... Are you accusing me?"

"Yes!" Wilson shouted. For good measure, over the next minute Wilson accused Filner of harboring "hatred of America" four more times, of being "hateful" three times and of being "viscerally anti-American" once.

And in 2003, Wilson, who got his start in politics as aide to Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), angrily objected to Thurmond's daughter Essie Mae Washington-Williams coming forward after he died, calling the revelation "unseemly."

"It's a smear on the image that [Thurmond] has as a person of high integrity who has been so loyal to the people of South Carolina," he said, South Carolina's The State newspaper reported at the time.

Following public outcry, Wilson stepped back from his remarks, saying, "I have the utmost respect for Essie Mae Washington-Williams and wish her and the Thurmond family all the best."

By Garance Franke-Ruta  |  September 10, 2009; 3:22 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Rob Miller's Campaign Gets New Life


SC politician benefitting from Joe
Wilson outburst

Rob Miller is experiencing revived interest in his 2010 campaign for Congress thanks to the backlash against Rep. Joe Wilson, the Republican from South Carolina who shouted "Lie. You lie" at President Obama during his Wednesday night address. Reports say that Miller has raised nearly $200,000 for his campaign since the outburst.


Posted by: FutureJumps | September 10, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Ask least he hasn't brought a cane to the floor of the house...yet.

Posted by: ChiefV | September 10, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

What shouldn't be lost on the public is that if I were in the Senate or House gallery and heckled a legislator during congressional procedings, I would be escorted out of the gallery by capitol police and more than likely charged with some phoney crime or another. However congressional types, as is pointed out on many occassions, are held to the same standard foisted upon their constituents.

Posted by: youngj1 | September 11, 2009 4:13 AM | Report abuse

A-maz-ing. Maybe not Rep Filner himself, but his political cohorts accused Pres. Bush and supporters of the Gulf War of being greedy capitalitic war hawks for engaging in the war simply for the oil. Well, yeah, because the supply of oil that Kuwait provided would greatly affect the world economy, as we have since seen, as because Hussein belligirently violated Kuwait's border. In 2002, Rep. Filner supported Pres. Bush's foreign policy. Did he in 1991?

This character defamation against Rep. Wilson is an over-reaction. He verbally erupted louder than he intended, and has since apologized for his lack decorum. It's over. Keep this in perspective by researching the history of Senate and House debates in the U.S. and other legislatures in the free world. Please, can we now get back to the important issues at hand?

Posted by: duffy91 | September 12, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse

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